Apple is experimenting with multiple foldable iPhone prototypes, according to leaker Dylandkt, but a foldable iPhone may not be coming in the near future because Apple still has concerns over foldable display technology and the market for foldable smartphones.
In a tweet thread, Dylandkt said that Apple is working on a possible future device, but that foldable display technology is not advanced enough and there are still too many "compromises" to deal with.
3/3 While other manufactures are iterating on products that are seemingly in beta, Apple is keen on making sure that the design is not a regression from the current form factor of the iPhone. They are interested in playing the long game to see how the technology progresses.— Dylan (@dylandkt) January 6, 2022Apple is also reportedly concerned about whether foldable smartphones will continue to be popular with consumers or will become obsolete in the coming years.
Before releasing a foldable iPhone, Apple wants to be sure that a foldable design isn't a "regression from the current form factor of the iPhone," which could indeed happen if there are issues with display longevity and quality because of the folding functionality. Dylandkt's comments suggest that Apple is continuing to take a wait and see approach to foldable smartphone technology, but some other rumors have indicated that Apple could release a foldable iPhone as soon as 2023.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in May 2021 that Apple is developing a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch flexible OLED QHD+ display that's set to be released in 2023. Display analyst Ross Young in December said that Apple would not release a foldable iPhone until 2023 "at the earliest," with 2024 being a more likely target date. Bloomberg in early 2021 said that Apple had started "early work" on an iPhone with a foldable display, indicating that there are a few years of development left.
Foldable iPhone rumors have been circulating since 2016, and we've previously heard reports about various prototypes that Apple is testing. Samsung has allegedly provided foldable display samples to Apple for testing purposes, but development has not yet expanded beyond a display.
At least one of Apple's foldable iPhone prototypes is said to feature two separate display panels connected with a hinge, a departure from single-display designs that Samsung has introduced. Another has been described as a foldable iPhone with a clamshell design similar to the Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung has been releasing foldable smartphones for years now, and other Android manufacturers have also embraced foldable technology. Smartphones with foldable displays continuing to face issues with durability and build quality, and they also have high price tags that far exceed the cost of standard smartphones.